India will start training at the Mohd. Shahid Stadium from November 24 for the Junior World Cup, scheduled here from December 8-18.The players will not only target a top finish, they will look to stake claim to the senior side for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Coach Harendra Singh is training the side in Bangalore and he spoke to HT about chalking out strategy to ensure India finish on the podium.
Excerpts from the interview:
Your plans for the World Cup?
Nothing less than a podium finish will do. I believe this is the best chance for the boys to retain the cup. India’s success at the four-nation event in Spain last week, where we defeated junior world champions Germany 5-2, was a morale booster. Hopefully, India will win the final on December 18.
Winning the cup is your dream too?
I was coach when we missed the bronze in 2005 and that loss still hurts. I accept there were some mistakes on my part as I couldn’t make the right substitutions. Next month’s event will help me correct the mistakes and relish the dream of winning.
Did the trip to Spain help?
Yes, very much. It was our last exposure trip before the World Cup, and winning was so important. In fact, everybody wanted to win ahead of the mega event next month. I am happy we did what we had planned. It also helped us understand the shortcomings and we are working on them.
Did a longer duration camp help the side prepare well?
It was a great help as we have been together for almost two years. It helped the boys understand each other and learn strategy. We have been playing like a unit where there is no place for dispute, ego and indiscipline. I have been advocating longer duration camps for many years.
Is coaching a tough job?
Coaching is a topic of enjoyment and innovation, and I am enjoying my stint with the juniors. A coach’s job is to stay abreast of modern training methods, which include scientific approach, diet control, conditioning and psychological approach of the players. I feel happy being with the juniors as most of them are my daughter’s age and convincing them is easy. With seniors, a coach needs to tackle many things, including discipline.
I’ve never compromised with my job. To stay updated with modern techniques of training, I spent money to attend courses by the FIH. I even watched foreign teams live to better my knowledge.
How helpful will a big pool of juniors be in future?
It is the result of organised planning at the junior level. We have inducted a few under-18 players in the junior side and having a pool of talented juniors is good for the future. Gone are the days when we used to pick players only from certain areas or cities. We look at talent only. I am sure many of our juniors would be there in 2020 and picking the best 18 would be the biggest task for our selectors.